Carlton v Collingwood, MCG, 7:50pm, Friday 13 April
Death or Glory awaits Carlton on Friday Night.
This is without doubt, the club’s biggest game in over a decade.
Finals aside, Carlton have never proved or consolidated they are a top tier side or premiership threat, and a win over Collingwood would have Geelong, Hawthorn and the Eagles looking in their rear-view mirrors.
On the other side of the coin, everyone is half-wittingly writing off Collingwood due to their slow start and the absence of the likes of Chris Tarrant in defence.
Despite playing lacklustre football in their game against the Tigers and being knocked off by the superior Hawks in their first run for 2012, they are still serious premiership contenders.
With a full house on Friday Night and likely perfect weather, this is shaping up to not only be the match of the round, but quite possibly contender for Game of the Year if it plays out as predicted.
WHY SHOULD YOU TUNE IN?
Michael Jamison and Nick Duigan returning after lengthy periods on the sidelines, ensuring Carlton have a near full-strength backline. This not only helps tackle the twin towers of Collingwood (Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes), but also the Pies’ dangerous small/mid-sized goal kicking threats in Alex Fasolo, Dale Thomas, Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom.
In fact, Carlton’s run off half-back in the last game against Collingwood in July last year saw Chris Yarran, Andrew Carrazzo, Duigan and Jamison dominate and really trouble the Pies.
With forward-running types such as Marc Murphy and Chris Judd, Carlton must punish Collingwood on the counter-attack by minimising turnovers and kicking efficiently into the forward 50.
If this goes to plan, Collingwood could well be caught out with the Blues’ mids streaming forward.
However, if this goes horribly wrong, Carlton will be punished on the turnover.
Discount them at your peril.
Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Thomas, Luke Ball, Beams and Sidebottom make up a midfield which has obliterated nearly everything that has gotten into its path in the past 2 seasons.
The Pies’ midfield is notorious for gut-running and intelligent positioning which negates dangerous ball movement past the opposition’s half-forward line.
Even once the ball is in inside 50 and they are at their most vulnerable, Ben Reid, Harry O’Brien and Heath Shaw are well able to run off their man and use the ball skilfully.
Cloke and Dawes must find their goal-kicking form and lead in to the space that will be left by Carlton’s defenders once they rebound.
Fasolo, Sharrod Wellingham and Sidebottom may well be made to hold Carlton’s rebounding defenders accountable. Carlton got within a kick in the last quarter the last time these two sides played, and if a few posters went they other way, the result could have differed greatly.
Who Will Win And Why?:
Regardless of who Carlton have beaten so far, they’ve managed to improve disposal efficiency and get good game time into fringe players who are now stating their case to be picked for the best 22.
For a side to challenge consistently for the Top 4, this is a massive plus. Just like the Eagles in Perth, they are now covering their injuries brilliantly.
Collingwood however, have looked average; making crucial mistakes in crucial periods against the Hawks and really playing for only 15 minutes against the Tigers on Saturday night.
Carlton have had two extra days off which will pay dividends towards their rebounding game-plan.
Carlton by 5.
B: Jeremy Laidler, Lachlan Henderson, Christopher Yarran
HB: Nick Duigan, Paul Bower, Zach Tuohy
C: Heath Scotland, Chris Judd, Kade Simpson
HF: Jeffrey Garlett, Jarrad Waite, Marc Murphy
F: Michael Jamison, Matthew Kreuzer, Eddie Betts
Foll: Shaun Hampson, Andrew Carrazzo, Bryce Gibbs
I/C: Dennis Armfield, Mitch Robinson, Kane Lucas, Edward Curnow
Emg: Jordan Russell, Bret Thornton, Brock McLean
In: Michael Jamison, Nick Duigan
Out: Jordan Russell, Bret Thornton
B: Harry O’Brien, Lachlan Keeffe, Heath Shaw
HB: Nick Maxwell, Ben Reid, Tyson Goldsack
C: Dane Swan, Luke Ball, Sharrod Wellingham
HF: Dale Thomas, Chris Dawes, Ben Sinclair
F: Dayne Beams, Travis Cloke, Alex Fasolo
Foll: Darren Jolly, Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom
I/C: Alan Toovey, Martin Clarke, Cameron Wood, Jarryd Blair
Emg: Tom Young, Paul Seedsman, Jackson Paine
In: Nick Maxwell, Sharrod Wellingham, Cameron Wood
Out: Chris Tarrant (calf), Paul Seedsman, Jackson Paine
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